Cross-sector Task Force on Elderly Services 2014

ZeShan Foundation, Hong Kong

Subsequent to the roundtable discussion convened by ZeShan Foundation in April 2014, a cross-sector working group has been formed with a focus around Hong Kong elderly services. The group was comprised of three task forces to take lead on forum organization, policy and advocacy, and dementia, respectively, which collectively work toward addressing issues raised during said roundtable discussion. 

In the face of a rapidly ageing population in Hong Kong, the working group believes that an effective public-private partnership is required to mobilize the community and the government to work in concert towards the needs of this shifting demographic. Only in coupling policy change with innovative solutions can Hong Kong be made an exemplar of quality elderly services for the region. 

In line with the group’s goal of encouraging cross-sector collaboration, the twenty members themselves are representatives of different sectors, such as grant-making foundations, academia and service providers, so as to join forces and work in synergy towards the common goal of improving elderly services.

Task Force 1: Conference Organization

The first task force organized a 2-day forum with a focus on building sustainable public-private partnership in elderly services, which was held in Hong Kong in mid-November 2015 just ahead of Hong Kong’s Senior Citizens’ Day. The goal behind this forum was to bring together private foundations, policy-makers, academics and service providers in a platform to develop private-public partnerships, as well as to demonstrate the importance of creating sustainable partnerships detailed through case studies.

Task Force 2: Policy & Advocacy

Convenor: Mr Patrick Cheung, Managing Director, The Jade Club

The second task force reviews elderly-related policies and advocates for greater cross-sector collaboration. In meetings convened with Miss Annie Tam, JP, Permanent Secretary for Labour and Welfare, and Dr. C. K. Law, Principal Investigator of the Consultant Team for the Elderly Commission’s Working Group on Elderly Services Program Plan (ESPP), members of this task force introduced the work and future plans of their respective organizations, discussed policy developments, and expressed views on the role and involvement of private foundations in the development of elderly services in Hong Kong.

Task Force 3: Dementia and Caregiver Support

Convenor: Ms Florence Ho, General Manager of the Jockey Club Centre for Positive Ageing & Jockey Club CADENZA Hub

The third task force looks specifically at dementia, diving into the policy and institutional support given to caregivers of dementia patients in Hong Kong. There are some 18,000 new cases of dementia every year in Hong Kong, and with the city’s ageing population, this neurological condition is expected to affect some 280,000, or 4% of the local population, by 2036.

 

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Beijing Normal University: China Social Work Education Demonstration Program

China

To support the fledging development of China’s social work profession, ZeShan Foundation has since 2012 supported the School of Social Development and Public Policy, Beijing Normal University (BNU) to establish a national demonstration program for social work education.

The pioneering four-year program aims to build up the school’s social work teaching, research and advocacy capacity, with the ultimate goal of creating a sustained pipeline of local social work educators in China. Key features include setting up a Master of Social Work program, establishing practicum and distance learning sites across the country, training master trainers in Central and Western China, and publishing case books and textbooks. Read more below:

China’s Long Hiatus in Social Work
Although China can trace its social work profession back to the 1920s, the field suffered a hiatus lasting over half a century. It was only in the mid-1980s that social work was resurrected, to a large extent thanks to concerted efforts by Hong Kong social work professionals and mainland academics. But the development of national social work education infrastructure is still in its nascent stages, and the field faces issues such as a lack of high-calibre research centers with the capacity to influence policy; a severe lack of qualified social work instructors; inadequate research capacity; a lack of a practicum site network; and low recognition of social work as a profession. During China’s recent push to rapidly develop the field, the enormous gap in academic and intellectual leadership has made itself especially apparent.

Beijing Normal University: A National Leader in Education Reform
BNU is China’s top university for teacher training and an innovative trailblazer in higher education reform. As such, BNU has the capacity to play a pivotal role in spearheading the country’s social work education development. The demonstration program is sanctioned by the Ministry of Civil Affairs and authorized by the Ministry of Education, and is part of the national strategy to jumpstart China’s social work education development.

Demonstration Program
A core part of the demonstration program is setting up a Master of Social Work (MSW) prorgrame which integrates social work, social development, NGO development, and policy advocacy – a first in mainland China.

To facilitate knowledge transfer, BNU has assembled an international team of academics – including many from Hong Kong – to teach alongside their Chinese counterparts, partnering on a one-to-one basis.

Emphasis is also placed on evidence-based teaching and research, so as to ensure the indigenization of knowledge and integration of theory and practice. To this end, BNU will set up an extensive network of 100 practicum sites across the country, publish textbooks on a range of social work topics and an annual case book, and set up a national recognition program for best practices. The ZeShan Case Centre for Social Development was unveiled in 2013, alongside the launch of a ZeShan Scholarship for MSW students.

To leverage more resources, ZeShan encouraged an agreement between BNU and Capacity Building and Assessment Center (CBAC), China’s leading training and assessment organization, whereby CBAC will provide capacity development training and technical assistance to BNU’s establishment of practicum sites.

Beyond Beijing
The demonstration program is not confined to BNU. It also includes setting up regional distance learning sites in partnership with major regional universities, providing intensive training for 700 master trainers to meet the acute needs in Central and Western China, and setting up a fellowship program that will offer up-and-coming social work educators from regional universities to take up teaching or research residency at BNU.

Another unique feature of the demonstration program is its commitment to policy advocacy, so as to provide evidence-based recommendations to the government on such polices as improving the career development of social workers.

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Train-the-Trainers Program

China

In November 2009, 13 high-level social welfare administrators from Xinjiang, Ningxia, Tibet, Inner Mongolia, and Shanxi attended a 21-day executive training program, which included visits to social welfare departments, NGOs, and universities in Hawaii, San Francisco and St. Louis in the United States.

Upon their return to China, members of the delegation formulated plans to increase social work training for civil affairs officials, encouraged research on issues that are pertinent to social work, and strengthened vocational training offered by government institutions. An alumni network was formed, with training programs and forums being organized regularly to encourage continuing exchange, dialogue and professional development among social welfare administrators.

The program also seeks to nurture a core group of trainers of social workers teaching at tertiary educational institutions and government training centers. So far, 135 participants recommended by their institutions have attended training sessions in Beijing, Kunming, Hangzhou and Xi’an, consolidating existing knowledge while learning new concepts and practices in teaching, learning, and mentoring, among other topics. Meanwhile, the four training sites were developed into regional centers that would provide further training to trainers of social workers after the end of ZeShan’s program in 2010.

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